The Bruce Mason Playwriting Award was presented to Mīria George (Te Arawa, Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Kuki Airani (Rarotonga & Atiu) at the Playmarket Accolades held at the Hannah Playhouse in Wellington on 12 November 2017. Mīria is the first Pasifika woman to receive the award since its inception in 1983. The $10,000 cash prize recognises professional success in the career of the writer and is designed to encourage their continued exploration of the theatre medium.
Mīria is a playwright, poet, producer and director living and working in Wellington. She is the co-founder of Tawata Productions and Tawata Press alongside Hone Kouka. Her politically charged work addresses issues of colonisation, identity and climate change and has toured New Zealand, Australia, Hawai’i, Canada and the United Kingdom.
Mīria’s plays include her breakthrough hit and what remains, the enchanting musical play He Reo Aroha (with Jamie McCaskill), the lyrical coming of age story Sunset Road and Urban Hymns written for the Young and Hungry Festival of New Work.
In 2017 her work has been seen in Wellington (Fire in the Water, Fire in the Sky at Kia Mau Festival and The Night Mechanics at BATS), Auckland and Hamilton (The Vultures at Q Theatre and the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts).
Writing of the premiere season of The Vultures in 2016, the Dominion Post called it “stylish, accomplished and powerful”. Adam Goodall, writing for the Pantograph Punch, said the work was “as fiery and intelligent as anything I’ve seen in Wellington in the last decade.”
Mīria holds a Masters in Creative Writing from Victoria University of Wellington’s International Institute of Modern Letters and was the first Cook Islands artist to receive the Fulbright-Creative New Zealand Pacific Writers Residency. Her published works include and what remains (Tawata Press), Urban Hymns (Playmarket) and The Wet Season, Mīria’s debut poetry collection (Wai-te-ata Press).
Since 1983 The Bruce Mason Playwriting Award has recognised the work of an outstanding New Zealand playwright. The recipient is decided through voting by a panel of leading Artistic Directors and Script Advisors throughout New Zealand. Previous winners include many of this country’s most celebrated writers including Hone Kouka, Briar Grace-Smith, Jo Randerson, Victor Rodger, Arthur Meek and Sam Brooks.
The Award is named after Bruce Mason, considered to be New Zealand’s first most significant playwright. His plays continue to be produced and many, such as The Pohutukawa Tree and The End of the Golden Weather have come to be considered New Zealand classics. The award is funded by The Downstage Foundation.